The Week in Public Finance: Atlantic City’s Intervention, New Pay-for-Success Projects and Arizona’s Pension Reform

Source: Liz Farmer, Governing, February 19, 2016

This past week, the Boston nonprofit Social Finance announced it helped design PFS projects launching in Connecticut and South Carolina.

The Connecticut project focuses on an in-home intervention for families where one or both parents struggle with substance abuse. The project will pay for new treatment teams to visit a client’s home several times a week to help parents end their addictions and provide better care for their children. It wasn’t immediately clear how much the program will cost, but it’s scheduled to serve 500 families over more than four years. Connecticut estimates that it spends more than $600 million a year on child abuse and neglect. If the new program is successful, it would ultimately save money by keeping kids with their parents and out of foster care, while also keeping parents productive and out of the judicial system.

South Carolina’s PFS project aims to improve health outcomes for mothers and children living in poverty. The new program is a so-called nurse-family partnership that pairs vulnerable first-time mothers with specially trained nurses to support healthy pregnancies and positive child development. About 27 percent of South Carolina’s children live in families struggling with poverty, according to the governor’s office. The project is being funded by $17 million from a handful of philanthropic organizations and about $13 million from Medicaid. The state will pay back up to $7.5 million to keep the program going if evaluators find it’s helping moms and kids stay healthy.


‘Government only pays for the positive outcomes.’ A strikingly new approach to social problems.
Source: Lenny Bernstein, Washington Post, February 16, 2016

Two states announced Tuesday that they would experiment with an unusual method of financing human service programs that allows governments to pay nothing unless the programs are successful. The approach recruits private companies and philanthropies to provide millions of dollars up front for efforts aimed at difficult social problems. If they meet a series of measurable goals over a number of years, the states will pay them back — with interest. …

Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy (D) announced Tuesday that his state would begin a $12 million, four-year initiative to help keep the children of 500 families out of foster care. Social workers from the Yale Child Study Center will work intensively to keep the children in their homes, focusing on parents with substance abuse problems. … No funder has yet been named for the initiative, but officials said several are interested. …

In South Carolina, Gov. Nikki Haley (R) announced a $30 million, four-year program that will send registered nurses who specialize in maternal and child health into the homes of low-income pregnant women. The nurses will help mothers learn parenting skills and how to keep their children healthy. The nurses will follow the families until the children turn 2. The program, expanding on an existing state effort, will be funded by organizations that include the BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina Foundation, the Duke Endowment and the Boeing Co. It will be evaluated by a research group at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which will determine whether the program meets goals such as fewer pre-term births, fewer hospitalizations and emergency room visits, and longer intervals between births.